Left the house at 7am on another great trek into the unknown. We would have liked to have left much earlier but were rather surprised to get away at all after a series of things through the week seemed to conspire against us.
Heading north on the Bruce Highway, we have no firm plans at this stage what we’ll see or do on the way, or even where we’ll spend the first night. The big plan, I guess, is to get to Cairns within two days, and camp in a little town called Kuranda just outside the city.
We’ve got the Nissan overloaded with camping gear and we even put the kayaks on the roof. We may not find any water to launch them, but it’s a beautiful sunny day and we’re off on our winter holiday.
Passed through Gympie right on 8.30. At least we assume it was Gympie, the town was blanketed in thick fog, as was the highway for at least 20 minutes either side of the town. Many of the trees on the roadside were draped in cobwebs, and with the dew shining and dripping in the mist, it created quite a fairy tale look.
After three hours we drove through Childers and passed the turnoff to Bundaberg, where we promptly lost most of the other traffic. Except for the petrol tanker semi we caught up with, after he had pulled out in front of us in Childers. A quick overtaking manoeuvre and he was soon dispensed with, leaving us with an empty road ahead.
This area and further north is best explored at this time of year because of the weather, so a lot of the other vehicles are camper vans or 4WDs pulling caravans, driven by what’s known in Australia as the Grey Nomads – retired couples who have sold up the family home and hit the road – a group to which Vic and I aspire to belong one day.
The traffic has definitely thinned out, and the landscape changes between dry brown grasslands scattered with gum trees, to paddocks of sugar cane and some undetermined fruit trees.
We cross the Burnett River, very pretty with green bush right down to the water’s edge. Vic commented that it would make for interesting canoeing. One day, I guess, when we’re not rushing anywhere.
We make Rockhampton by 1.30pm, and decide we’ll keep going rather than stop and look around the town. We do however pick up a pie at the first shop we come to, and then carry on.
I take up the driving from here until we get to Mackay at 5.30pm.
We stopped for an hour at Mackay, and examined the inside of the local KFC diner when we decided we’d carry on to Townsville. Arrived in that town by 10.30 pm, but now of course it’s too late to put up a tent. (Well, so said us, anyway).
After refuelling again we found our way back onto the highway, this time with the intention of finding a place to stop for the night. We found what we were looking for about half an hour outside Townsville, although we didn’t know it at the time. A signpost informed us of Bluewater Rest Area, 5kms ahead. A bit odd we thought, rest areas are not normally named. But we didn’t think any more of it, so we followed the sign from the road and stopped under a tree. There was another car parked under a tree as well. The front seats in our truck recline so far back that they rest on the back seat, so as long as there isn’t more than two people, sleep is not impossible.